This project is part of bigger, ANR-funded study leading to the publication of an Atlas of e-diasporas which will attempt to map the online presence of transnational communities. The project is headed by Dr Dana Diminescu. Ingrid Therwath, along with Anouck Carsignol, an affiliated researcher at the CSH, is part of the India team working on various aspects of the online presence of the 30-million strong Indian diaspora.
The World Wide Web constitutes a prime locus for migrant mobilisation, community-building and diaspora construction, very much in the wake of Benedict Anderson's analysis of "print capitalism". The case of Hindu nationalism constitutes a prime example of this phenomenon since it champions the advent of a Hindu state in India while projecting the universal appeal of its ideology and lays claims to a very modernist and techno-savvy ethos. Its very territorialised yet universal ambitions have been finding particular resonance among migrant populations, particularly in North America. These ethnic groups, which grew in strength in the 1990s, were generally upper middle-class and had professional computer training. The web very early on thus became the sphere of expression of Hindu nationalism and the motherboard of ideology-based diasporic community-building, particularly through forums and online meetings (e-shakhas).
This project, largely based on fieldwork conducted over a period of 10 years and on a database of Hindu nationalist websites (obtained through the use of a crawler and to mapping and cartography softwares developed for the e-diaspora atlas project), strives to go beyond content analyses and shift the focus from voices to traces and gaze in order to present new transnational practices of nationalism. Two main points emerge from this in-depth scrutiny. On the one hand, Hindu nationalism outfits have transferred their online activities mainly to the USA, where the Indian diaspora has a 3,2 million strong presence, and constitute therefore a prime example of long-distance transnationalist nationalism. On the other hand the morphological discrepancies between the online and the offline networks point to new politics of discretion developed to evade the gaze of authorities in countries of residence. Strategies of visibility as well of invisibility will be further deconstructed while revisiting the relationship between diaspora and the homeland.
This particular work on Hindu nationalism online will strive to show the extend of the Sangh Parivar's cyber networks along with the wider connections of pro-Hindutva groups. It will also point out, thanks to a corpus of several hundred websites, the proximity of transnational Hindu nationalists with other religious groups and movements, particularly Evangelicals and extremist Jews.
Preliminary findings will be published in Social Science Information in 2011 and the final book with the contributions of all teams will come out in 2012.